Whitsundays to Cairns 16:55.06S, 145:46.9E
We are making good progress north but it is a few hundred miles still to the Torres Strait and our departure point from Australia plus of course there is more to see and do. We pushed on over two and a half days to Cairns, the wind mainly from the SE and up to 20 knots gave us a rolly ride mainly following the inshore shipping channel. It was an uneventful trip and we tied up in Marlin Marina where we intended to stay for a week. We needed food and fuel, an oil change on the engine and time to investigate a salt water leak into the engine bay. Also we had been told that Raymond, the Indonesian rally organiser was going to be there at the weekend with the Regent of Sula and that she would like to meet any rally participants who were still there. Our neighbour in the marina Bertius on Queen Bee, a Dutch boat, had more news of the regents visit. It was changed to Tuesday and would be a party at the Cairns Cruising Yacht Squadron, eventually it would change again to Thursday.
Tourist city Cairns, no beach in the city but an impressive pool. (You don’t swim in the river because of the crocodiles.)
Lots of open spaces and activities.
And some massive fig trees
Sarah made progress with some sewing including a long sleeve shirt for Phil to keep the mosquitos off, ordered in a mega food shop from Woolworths cleaned and restowed the boat. We now have staples for at least two months and hopefully longer and all spaces on board are packed tight. Phil poked around in the engine bay and found the leak, a steady drip from the saltwater cooling pump. He replaced the impellor in the pump and resealed the cover plate and pipework, still it dripped. An internal seal had failed, it would be possible to get a new pump in Cairns but delivery would be about 6-8 weeks. They could try to get it repaired but didn’t seem very hopeful. Phil ordered one from UK, five days delivery the cost of courier being about the same as the VAT saved. While waiting he looked at an old pump we had on board, stripped it down and fitted new seals bought locally, $11 for parts to repair two pumps. We now have a new pump and a repaired pump as spares as well as new seals in the one on the engine.
Phil modelling his new shirt. The fabric came from New Caledonia last year
The wait for the new pump from UK meant that we were still here on Tuesday for the party but we got a message that it was cancelled and it would be on Thursday. As someone has said to us, ”welcome to Indonesia”. We are also still waiting for our boat documents and visa’s.
Sarah had been looking at trips in the area and found the Skyrail and train, we made a last minute booking on Sunday. A coach picked us up in the city and we were taken to the three stage gondola which goes over the rainforest stopping for a short walk with information boards about the rainforest and again to view the Barron Falls, a 265 metre waterfall on the Barron river. It ends at Kuranda where we had time for lunch, a short walk by the river and then it was time to catch the train back to Cairns. The Kuranda Scenic Railway follows the Barron Gorge, it was built in the late 1800’s to service the townships in the gold fields which in the wet season could be cut off for weeks. Hand carved from the side of the rocky gorge and built out from the side of it the narrow gauge railway goes 33 kilometres from Cairns to Kuranda climbing 376 metres. It has 106 cuttings, 15 hand carved tunnels, 55 bridges and 98 curves. On the impressive curve at Stoney Falls from the back of the train you can look across at the engines passing the falls. The railway eventually dropped us back in Cairns city.
Gondola and railway views
We were then looking for a weather window to head north and it looked like the end of the week would be best. We are in the trade wind area and have almost continual SE winds fresh to strong to take us up inside the Great Barrier Reef. This meant that we were still in Cairns when the Regent of Sula visited to meet the five boat crews still here. We actually think it was a corporate jolly with the excuse of tourism promotion but it all went well with a short presentation on what to expect in Sula, lots of photographs, a finger buffet and open bar tab. The regent Fifienne, is an elected official and to us it was surprising that in a mainly muslim area of Indonesia the head person is a woman. She is the first female Regent in Indonesia.
Fifienne, the Regent of Sula
We filled Serenity with fuel and water and are ready to head north.